Image: Rick Wright.
Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.
Rick Wright, Managing Director of WINGS Birding Tours Worldwide, writes:
The challenge of this mystery bird is less to diagnose its identity than to figure out how you identified this fine male Hooded Merganser. The responses from readers point to two very different modes of identification. The first mode is that of identification in the strict sense: checking the visible characters in the image against those signaled in the field guides. This method often works, and it is the approach the vast majority of birders take when confronted with an unfamiliar bird (or an unfamiliar angle).
The second method is more interesting and more challenging. Experienced birders will not have “identified” this bird, but rather recognized it, drawing on preparation and experience to riffle through a vast mental file of images to find the match. Once you’ve taken time to learn your birds, you don’t need to “identify” them: you know what they look like, and even an unfamiliar view such as this one presents the bird in a way that it is unmistakable.
I’m often asked how to take “the next step” in birding. This is it: learn the book, then learn the bird. You will impress yourself with the depth of your knowledge — and the ease with which so many “mysteries” unravel
Review all mystery birds to date.